Archive for October, 2009

Messerschmitt Bf 110C

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Twin-engined fighter aircraft allotted to Luftwaffe unit 4 /ZG76 with fuselage code M8+MM and ‘shark’s mouth’ nose artwork. The Bf110 C-series was introduced in January 1939.

30 Aug 40 Shot down on this Friday afternoon by RAF fighters during escort mission – a daylight raid on the Vauxhall Motors factory at Luton, Beds and crashed into the corner of a field bordering Claggybottom Lane at Barley Beans Farm, Kimpton, near Hitchin, Herts at 4.30pm; totally destroyed in the ensuing crash having hit the ground vertically at high speed.

The Bf110 was escorting He111 bombers of KG 53 which had intended to bomb the Handley Page aerodrome at Radlett, Herts; they became detached from the rest of the formation and found the Vauxhall plant at Luton, releasing 59 bombs onto the factory and its surrounding area. The engineering section of the works was badly hit and one direct hit killed seven people sheltering beneath a stairway. In Luton 20 people were killed and 174 injured – 49 seriously. The factory was back in production within six days.

Jointly shot down by two Hawker Hurricane Mk Is, flown by Flying Officer Ludwik W. Paszkiewicz of Northolt-based No. 303 (Polish) Squadron’s B Flight and Pilot Officer B J Wicks of North Weald based No 56 Squadron. Claimed as the first Polish victory during the Battle of Britain (though initially mis-identified as a Do 17); 303 (Polish) Squadron, not at that time operational, were actually on a training flight. Their chance interception of the Heinkels inspired a well-known scene in the 1969 ‘Battle of Britain’ feature film, and led to the Squadron being declared operational the following day, to the great joy of the Polish pilots. Sadly, Paszkiewicz, having gained six kills and the DFC, was killed In Action shortly afterwards in the crash of Hurricane L1696/RF-M at Crowhurst Farm, Borough Green, Kent on 27 September 1940; he is buried in Northwood Cemetery.

The Bf110’s crew were both seasoned veterans of the French campaign. After a desperate effort to evade the Hurricanes, Paskiewicz’s guns knocked out the Bf110s starboard engine; when PO Wicks joined in the attack Nordmeir baled out as the aircraft rolled over inverted, breaking up as it went into a vertical dive, the tailplane breaking off as it went down. The aircraft hit a row of mature elm trees, which sheared off the wings outboard of each engine and shattered the cockpit and fuselage, with large sections of wing structure and fuselage fragments scattered around the crater. Larger portions of wreckage were removed on an RAF Queen Mary trailer some days after the crash.

The pilot, 27-year old Oberfw. Georg Anthony was killed in the resulting crash; Bordfunker (radio operator/rear gunner) Uffz. Heinrich Nordmeyer/Nordmeir (alternative spellings recorded) captured paralysed having baled out at low level and suffered a broken back; after hospital treatment he became a Prisoner of War.

Anthony was buried with full military honours in Hitchin, where his grave still remains today.

1982 Large pieces of wreckage excavated by the donor’s father from a depth of some eight feet into stony clay at the crash site, now known as Ramridge Farm, using a JCB. Recognisable components included both DB601A engines (X005-0837/38) and their separated propeller hubs, two 20mm cannon in their blast tubes, both undercarriage legs, a badly compressed radiator, and a NMW enamel engine badge together with several boxes of severely damaged smaller components, which were all then stored at the farm until acquired by the RAF Museum. The starboard engine still bore evidence of bullet strikes and fire damage.

2009 Parts donated to RAFM by the current farmer, Mr David Manning.

13 Oct 2009 Parts collected from farm by RAFM and taken to RAFM MBCC Cosford for initial assessment and storage.

Another New Arrival at the RAF Museum

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

PERCIVAL PRENTICE T.1 VS618 /G-AOLKOne of 349 production standard Percival P.40 Prentice Tiger Moth replacement two-seat basic trainer aircraft built for RAF service as the RAF’s first side-by-side trainer. Built under sub-contract at the Blackburn Aircraft factory at Brough, serials block VS609 – VS758. Contract No 623. Constructor’s number PAC/225. A total of 483 Prentices were built including some for Argentina and India.

13 May 49 Awaiting Collection.

18 May 49 To No 22 Flying Training School (FTS), RAF Syerston, Notts. Used to train Royal Navy personnel as pilots.

9 Mar 54 To No 9 Maintenance Unit, RAF Cosford, Salop for storage.

25 Apr 56 Transferred to civil register as G-AOLK.

11 May 56 Sold to Freddie Laker’s Aviation Traders Ltd at Southend, Essex. Aviation Traders purchased from the Ministry of Supply an eventual 252 of the RAF’s Prentices for civil conversion, making them nominally the 8th or 9th largest air force in the world at the time, with the aircraft ferried from RAF Maintenance Units at Cosford, High Ercall and Shawbury, all in Shropshire, to Southend as ‘Operation Prentice’ with RAF markings painted out and civil registrations crudely painted over them. Between April and July 1956, 33 pilots ferried 92 Prentices to Southend and another 58 to Stansted.

Only 28 of these Prentices reached civil certification, with barely 20 actually being sold, being fuel-guzzlingly expensive to operate and outsold by imported American types, the rest being dumped and scrapped at Southend and Stansted in the early 1960s. Those Laker did sell were generally painted silver-grey, upholstered in grey vinyl with red trimmings, with a bench seat for three behind the pair of pilot’s seats, initially selling at £2000 (later £1500) including a four-channel radio.

1958/1960 Registered to Aviation Traders (Engineering) and held in long-term storage awaiting conversion for the private/executive/charter role.

7 May 64 Offered for sale in Flight International magazine with six seats and long -range fuel tanks for ‘£1,760 or offer’.

1967/8 Registered to Mr A.H. Smith.

1974-2008 Registered to Hilton Aviation Ltd, Southend, Essex; flown in a variety of purely civil colour schemes over the years. Still airworthy 2009.

Jul 2009 Flown from temporary storage at North Weald, Essex, to Shuttleworth Collection’s airfield at Old Warden, Beds.

Flown at White Waltham airfield 4 October 2009.

9 Oct 2009 Following purchase by RAF Museum, flown by Ben Cox from Coventry to RAFM Cosford for restoration and display.

One of some 17 Prentice survivors worldwide.

T DOUGLAS A-20G-25-DO Havoc 43-9436

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Following the signing of the contract last year between the Royal Air Force Museum and Precision Aerospace Productions of Wangaratta, work has moved forward rapidly with the restoration of Douglas A-20G Havoc 43-9436 ‘Big Nig’. Completion is currently scheduled for the summer of 2010.The largely intact airframe was recovered from Papua New Guinea in 1994 and subsequently transferred to RAAF Amberley. ‘Big Nig’ was one of a batch of new A-20Gs allocated to the 89th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force. Based at Nadzab, near Lae in Papua New Guinea, the aircraft featured a caricature of its regular pilot (Capt James L Folse), who supposedly resembled a Damon Runyan character of the period.

On 3 May 1944, ‘Big Nig’ was brought down by ground fire after a bombing mission against Japanese forces at Wewak as part of the mopping up operations subsequent to Operation Reckless – the invasion of Hollandia. The aircraft was safely landed by its pilot 2nd Lt Tom Reading (with S/Sgt Burke L Cock as gunner) in a freshwater swamp where it would remain, undisturbed, for the next 50 years.

The aircraft will now be returned to as close to its original condition as possible. Every effort is being made to retain contemporary material while ensuring the airframe’s long term structural integrity. The attached photographs show the recently completed nose-art and the original nose-art (on badly corroded panels that have had to be replaced). When the aircraft goes on display at Hendon next year, ‘Big Nig’ will represent not only one of a handful of surviving A20s worldwide but also the thousands of Bostons and Havocs successfully employed by the RAF, RAAF and SAAF between 1940 and 1945. It will also serve as a memorial to all those air and ground crews that operated the aircraft through the Second World War in the European, Mediterranean and Far East Theatres.

As with the recently unveiled FE2b, the RAF Museum will be publishing a detailed monograph, in conjunction with Guideline Publications, describing the story of this ambitious and important restoration project, as well as the operational history of the A-20 in Allied service.

Forthcoming Events at Yorkshire Air Museum

Monday, October 5th, 2009

TARGET FALKLANDS – Saturday 17th October.
A superb lecture presentation featuring four well known veterans of the RAF Falklands War air campaign. Barry Neale (from Devon) and Martin Withers (Easingwold, York, who is also Chief Display pilot to the Vulcan to the Sky Trust) will talk about their experiences in the famous Black Buck raids, the bombing of Port Stanely airfield. Martin flew the Vulcan Bomber that actually dropped the bombs on the airfield and Barry is a Victor K2 Tanker pilot, who refuelled Martin on the return. Barry Neale was also involved in the strategic planning of the Black Buck raids, which at the time were the longest range bombing mission ever undertaken by any air force.

Also appearing is John Kennedy, who is one of the pilots to have flown legendary Chinook helicopter ‘Bravo November’, which was the only Chinook to survive the destruction of the Arctic Conveyor. The Falklands was this aircraft’s first theatre of operation and it is still in service, having seen action in Lebanon, Germany, Northern Ireland, Kurdistan, Iraq and now Afghanistan. It is currently the most decorated aircraft in service with the Royal Air Force.

Perhaps the icing on the cake is the recent confirmation that Sea Harrier pilot David Morgan will be joining the discussion, with opportunities to purchase his well received book “Hostile Skies” and have it signed.

There will be other V Force, Chinook and fast jet veterans attending and there will be a Question and Answer session and memorabilia signing opportunity with all of these guests and also author Gordon Ramsey, author of ‘Falklands War – Then and Now.’

Other attractions are Aces High Aviation Gallery sales, Corgi diecast model display, International Plastic Modellers Society display and also the opportunity to sit in the cockpits of the Harrier GR3 and Mirage III. Harriers saw distinguished service in the Falklands was and Mirage III were operated by the Argentine Air Force.


The day session is followed in the evening with the exciting Nightshoot, where the Handley Page Victor K2, veteran of the Falklands and Gulf Wars, will be joined by another legend of the skies, the De Havilland Mosquito. This is the only restored Nightfighter version of this aircraft, so this interesting and challenging photographic session provides a unique opportunity to photograph these two aircraft in an evening setting with external / internal lighting on for dramatic effect. Tickets for the Nightshoot include an opportunity to have access to the Victor cockpit for some fascinating aspects of this aircraft.

These events can be booked either individually, or in a package, and prices are as follows:

Target Falklands Lecture presentation £12

Lecture plus Nightshoot £30

Victor / Mosquito Nightshoot £25

Prices include museum admission.

Book online at ‘Shop/Tickets at or send cheque made payable to Yorkshire Air Museum to Target Falklands / Nightshoot, YAM, Halifax Way, Elvington, York, YO41 4AU. For further information, please ring 01904 608595.


THUNDER DAY – Sunday 18th October.
The live engine runs of the Blackburn Buccaneer and Handley Page Victor, giving a superb opportunity to see – and hear – these mighty aircraft at close quarters. A thrilling experience.

The Buccaneer will give two performances, morning and afternoon, featuring engine power up of the twin Rolls Royce Spey engines, short taxi run and then the wing-folding, bomb bay rotation, rear airbrake activation and control surface movements, all under power. The afternoon session will be followed by the Victor which will be performing a fast taxi run down Elvington’s runway, providing a magnificent spectacle. All this will be under the watchful eye of the Museum’s fully trained Fire Team, with appliances such as the 38 tonne Pathfinder airport fire tender, six wheel drive Range Rover V8 Tactical Airfield Crash and Recovery vehicle, all providing additional spectacle and interest. The Fire Team will be giving an opportunity for kids to have a go with the fire hoses in the morning, before the engine runs commence. Don’t miss this great day of activity!!

Admission: £6 Adults, £5 Senior citizens and £3 Children.

For further information, please ring: 01904 608595